5 Reasons My Family Is Doing Screen-Free Week

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Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Tue Apr 30, 5:57 PM UTC

My family will take part in the Screen-Free Pledge this week. In 2013, screens are such a constant presence in our lives that sometimes it's hard to remember what we're missing by being so attached to devices and passive entertainment. My family has had some struggles with screentime -- especially regulating the iPad -- and this will be a way to start fresh with a new set of rules. So, screens will go off this week in my house. Here's why:

1. We're tired of being begged for "iPad time." I've seriously thought of throwing our iPad in the trash. Despite our best efforts to regulate when and where and why our kids can use the iPad, there's a constant refrain in my house, "Can I play iPad?" While I love introducing my kids to cool new games and discovering great apps to help my daughter with her math, my husband and I get so frustrated being asked for the device at the most inopportune times (like the moment I walk through the door at the end of a long day). Even a week's break will be a welcome respite.

2. My son is kind of obsessed. While he gets fixated on things like "Harry Potter" and "Bakugan," nothing takes the place of the iPad. He tells me he dreams about it! He'll ask me for the iPad at 6 a.m. -- the moment he opens his eyes (and mine are still closed). I'm glad he's passionate about the things he loves, but I want to make sure he can spread his interests among those that are screen-based and the rest of the great things in the world.

3. We need different discipline tools. This is really the biggie. I'm embarrassed to admit that the iPad is the first thing we threaten to take away when we're trying to get my kids to do something important (stop hitting your sister... throwing rocks... coming out of your room after bedtime... or I'll take away the iPad!). I find myself using that threat because it works -- and quickly. But it's a bad habit. These kinds of threats aren't useful in the long run because they don't ultimately teach that the behavior is wrong.

4. We need more family time. With two working parents and kids with a full school and extracurricular activity schedule, our time at home together is precious. My husband and I usually moderate our screen time in front of the kids -- and we also have fun watching TV and playing video games together. But the amount of time spent playing charades and hide-and-seek and Monopoly is beginning to take a back seat. By cutting out even a half hour of TV time and adding in a game of tag in the back yard, we've strengthened our family and gotten some exercise at the same time.

5. I want my kids to be bored. I was lucky to have lots of space to roam when I was a kid. I'd climb trees and dig in the dirt. And I read lots of books. My kids barely have a free moment between getting home, eating dinner, and going to bed. Sad, but true. And if those few free moments are filled up with their daily allotment of iPad time, what's left? True, this one week won't significantly change their habits, but if they get a bit more time to daydream, build a sword out of cardboard, and open their eyes to what can be done with a few more minutes of free time, I'm all for it.

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